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A Shared Vision

at Risk‌

A Long Legacy of Accessible, High-quality and Affordable Education On November 4, 1861 the University of Washington opened its doors with a single room on Fourth Avenue and University Street in downtown Seattle. The sole instructor, Asa Shinn Mercer, taught a class of 20 students. Today, the UW educates nearly 100,000 students a year on three campuses, in local businesses, schools and individual homes through distance learning. For 150 years, the University of Washington and the people of the state of Washington have overcome all kinds of challenges. The UW was established during the turmoil of the Civil War. We have survived two world wars and the Great Depression. We‘ve seen Seattle transform from a city of 250 to a globally significant region of several million. Together we’ve helped Boeing planes take flight, made computing “cool,” turned yeast into vaccines and helped cure some forms of cancer. And now, because of the persistence of the “Great Recession” of the 21st century, we are faced with our next extraordinary challenge: our children may not be as well educated as they need to be to compete successfully in the global economy.

Where’s the Public in Public Higher Education? For most of the UW’s first century and a half, citizens of the state provided the bulk of financial support for the University so that thousands of Washingtonians could attend at a very affordable cost. Taxpayers helped subsidize the cost of education for citizens and in return, helped train the teachers, doctors, scientists and businessmen and women who would help the state grow and prosper. In the past three years, the University of Washington had a 50 percent cut in public funding—over $200 million. In 1990, the state of Washington provided nearly 80 percent

FUNDING PER STUDENT* $20,000 $15,000 $10,000 $5,000 $0 1990–91



* Funding per Full Time Equivalent (FTE) Students Student FTE data derived from Legislative Evaluation and Accountability Program (LEAP) data. (

Tuition-setting Authority: What It Means for Students During the 2011 legislative session, Husky alums and many other higher education supporters statewide helped convince the Legislature to provide the UW and other public universities with more tools to ensure that they can continue to educate our citizens during these troubled economic times. Perhaps the most important was the ability for all public universities to set tuition rates. To maintain quality, the UW announced it would raise undergraduate tuition 20 percent for 2011–12. While this increase is significant to our students and their families, tuition at the UW still remains well below that of peer institutions.


Many UW efficiency initiatives have been built around the Lean philosophy, which is based on empowering staff to find ways to eliminate redundancy and waste. The University now has over 50 projects underway across campus, employing Lean strategies to streamline service delivery and eliminate waste, including:

of the funds to educate UW students, and students funded the remaining 20 percent through tuition and fees. Today, the state funds only about 30 percent of the cost and UW students fund 70 percent. Costs at the UW aren’t going up—the cost of educating a student at the UW has remained constant for the last 20 years. During this time, the burden of funding a public college education has shifted from the state to students and their families.

The UW is expected to save more than $3 million annually through campus-wide software agreements, strategic sourcing on hardware and other purchases, using the cloud for various IT solutions, and distributing software to help save on power consumption by desktop computers.

TUITION COMPARISON Academic Year 2011–12 Undergraduate Resident Tuition and Required Fees University of California-Davis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $13,860 The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor . . . . . . . . . . . . $13,437 University of California-San Diego. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $13,202 University of California-Irvine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $13,122 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. . . . . . . . . $12,754 University of California-Los Angeles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $12,686 University of Massachusetts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $12,612 University of Virginia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $11,576 University of Connecticut . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $10,660 University of Washington. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $10,574 University of Colorado-Boulder. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $9,152 University of Maryland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $8,655

This tuition increase allowed the UW to significantly increase financial aid by 45 percent. Not only does this keep the Husky Promise program alive, but middle-class students whose families had previously earned too much to qualify for aid are now eligible for some financial assistance. Tuition dollars also allowed the UW to reinvest in writing and learning centers and high-demand courses to help ensure students can get the classes they need to complete their degree on time. Most importantly, the significant tuition increase has not changed the type of students who attend the UW or where they come from. While the UW did accept 150 more out-of-state students this year on a one-time basis due to financial circumstances, 80 percent of all UW undergraduates still hail from right here in the state of Washington. Thirty percent of our students are the first in their families to attend college. More than 8,000 of our resident undergraduates will pay no tuition or fees under the Husky Promise—more than 25 percent of our undergraduates. The UW has always educated Washington and that will never change.

State revenue collections continue to present major problems for the governor and the state legislature, and another multi-billion dollar deficit is looming this winter. A special session of the legislature will be underway by the time you read this. And despite being given tuitionsetting authority last session, tuition increases alone will not and should not solve all of public higher education’s financial problems. To allow the University not only to survive but continue to thrive and serve the people of our state, both the UW and the state will have to make even more changes. For several years, the UW has been working diligently to reform its internal operations to be more innovative and efficient. We’ve seen real demonstrated success by rethinking our business practices to be more nimble, productive and cost effective. Now more than ever, the UW needs alumni and friends to focus on what is really happening to higher education in Olympia. We are truly all in this together.

SERVING WASHINGTON STUDENTS UW Total Percentage of Undergraduate Resident Students 2009–11 100% Residents Nonresidents




0% 2010


UW Health Sciences Center is centralizing their payroll system and beginning to develop ways of sharing information technology expertise in a more effective way.




The office that supports UW research has virtually eliminated backlogs for closing budgets on expired grants that had stretched back for two years, implementing the improvement process in just five months.

Public Higher Education Is in Jeopardy


The College of Arts & Sciences created a center for shared services such as payroll and purchasing, creating some economies of scale.



Make Higher Education a Real Priority If we want our children to continue to have better educational opportunities than we had, if we want to maintain a quality of life that makes Washington THE place to be—then funding higher education needs to be a bigger priority for all of us. We have to get back to a shared vision of creating a better future for our kids, our state and our nation. If we want sustainable prosperity, we have to first prioritize investments in education.

Invest in Students, Not Bureaucracy To become even more efficient, the state should provide the UW with more operational flexibility and relieve it from certain regulatory burdens involving investments, personnel, procurement and public works. Such actions would reduce redundant and inefficient business practices and permit us to invest more in our students instead of bureaucracy. Working together, we can make a difference—in the lives of Washington students and the people of our state. Learn more at

A Shared Vision at Risk...